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Pride Events and Festivals

DJ Zach Shore to Headline WinterPRIDE 2012 Gender Bender Drag Ball

DJ Zach Shore has established himself as one of the best DJ’s in Vancouver’s club scene.

Zach was introduced to DJing from his dad, who had previously been a DJ and had set-up a home studio for making remixes. Zach experimented at home and then took his talents to underground, playing parties where he learned how to adapt and be flexible in his own unique style.

Having graced many dance floors with his music, Zach has entertained thousands of club goers with his wide variety of style. He has mastered the art of setting the mood and tone to captivate the crowds.

Today, Zach is aggressively developing his skills in music production as his dance remixes become more recognized by other DJ’s and artists. Zach also creates soundtracks for video and animation companies throughout North America.

DJ Zach Shore will be the headline DJ at Gender Bender Ball at WinterPRIDE on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 from 9pm – 2am at Garfunkles in the Whistler village.

“Zach Shore is sure to get you groov’n on the dance floor,” said Vancouver Drag Diva, Symone.

WinterPRIDE is held February 5 – 12, 2012 in Whistler, BC. Tickets are on sale now for the Gender Bender Ball and other events.


The 8 Do’s and Don’ts of Pride Parades

Pride parades are all about celebrating the rights and freedoms we have as individuals, raise awareness, and recognize the diversity within our communities, all while respecting the unique differences amongst citizens and visitors.

During a Pride parade, pretty much anything goes, but here are some good pointers and etiquette to keep in mind:

  1. Do wear lots of sunscreen.
  2. Do stay on the sidewalk; please keep off the parade route.
  3. Do drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
  4. Don’t forget your sunglasses.
  5. Do cheer for your favourite drag queen, dancers and friends of the community as they pass by.
  6. Do take lots of photos; respect those who do not want their photo taken.
  7. Do share pride beads.
  8. Don’t arrive at the parade drunk


International Leatherboy Attends 2011 Toronto Pride

Ian - Mr International Leatherboy 2010

In February 2010, Ian McKechnie was titled, Eastern Canada Leather boy, and just a few months later in July 2010 he was named Mr International Leatherboy.

“Since that time I have been publically stripped naked, tied-up, beaten, flogged, kicked, punched, electrocuted, and set on fire,” said Ian. “It’s been a great freakin year!”

The youngest of seven children, Ian grew up in a blue collar, Roman Catholic family in Hamilton, Ontario. He is proud of his accomplishments as a second-degree black belt.

Thought his involvement in the Hamilton Pride Committee, Ian was introduced to the Golden Horseshoe Leather Association. Here Ian met his two leather mentors, Phil and John, who showed him the many facets of the leather community.

Sadly, his mentors passed away before they could see Ian win his International title.

“It is the memory of their love, boundless energy, and selfless commitment to the leather and bear communities that I take with me throughout this title year, and always,” Ian proudly said.

During his term, Ian shares his duties with Sir Hugh, International Leather SIR, and red warrior, International Community Bootblack 2010.

Ian has attended many Pride events and festivals over the past year as part of his duties, including Toronto Pride 2011.

Ian ended with, “I am proud to say that my name is Ian, and I am a Leather boy.”

Mr International Leatherboy, blogger Brian Webb, and DJ Pierre Fitch at Toronto Pride 2011


Salt Spring Island Opens a Giant Bag of Happy at 7th Annual Pride Weekend

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Sunshine, blue skies and rainbows is what pride organizers ordered, and that’s what was delivered this past weekend for the 7th Annual Salt Spring Island Pride.

Salt Spring Island Pride is not about the latest fashion, headliner DJ’s, big-name entertainers, or political leaders. It’s about a community coming together; a true, grass-roots, Pride festival. People from all walks of society are proud to come together in a safe environment where they can let loose and express themselves freely.

Thursday evening the organizers hosted a panel discussion on international gay rights, followed by the screening of Beyond Gay, the Politics of Pride. It was hosted outside in the vineyard of a local winery.

“The Thursday night Salon was incredible,” said Salt Spring Island Pride Chair, Amy Phillips. “It was the setting, the set-up, and the attendance. The panel members were great and they brought such quality to the event.”

Members from every facet of the Salt Spring community came out to Fulford Hall on Friday evening for Ze Cabaret. From violins, poetry and folk music, to salsa dancing, burlesque and a saw-fiddle performance – the fun evening of eclectic talent from local performers made for a evening the entire room thoroughly enjoyed.

Following the Friday evening variety show was a dance with music by local DJ’s who mashed up 1920’s flapper music with the likes of Rihanna. It was lively but very home-grown, laid back fun.

“There were big expectations for both Thursday and Friday night,” said Amy. “People were glowing with awe and appreciation. Something special happened that [Friday] night. The Cabaret event took on a life of it’s own.”

On Saturday morning the men threw on their dress and wig, the 20-something’s grabbed whatever they could find with a rainbow on it, and the ladies strapped into their corsets – and all together they marched proudly down the street proclaiming Pride on Salt Spring Island.

“The parade route was new for 2011,” Amy explained. The parade halted traffic for an hour along the central street in Ganges village. Hundreds of people lined the streets to see the parade. The parade included support organizations, local politicians (the Green Party’s very own MLA, Elizabeth May, rode in a horse-drawn carriage!), and members of the LGBT community.

“Numbers were down this year,” said Salt Spring Island Pride Chair, Amy Phillips. “Tourism is down on the island in general. Fewer people on the Island turned out for the parade this year.”

Following the parade was Pride in the Park; an afternoon in the park where family and friends could gather and enjoy the beautiful weather, listen to local music and hear speakers talk about issues the trans community still faces.

“Pride in the Park is what kept the events going,” explained Amy. “Folk music and dancing is what people wanted. The trans theme came from a workshop we attended earlier this year. Trans are still not covered under the human rights in Canada.”

Saturday night a Pride Dance was held at Barbs Buns. The venue was ideal – a dance floor inside, a set-bar for quick service of refreshments, and an outdoor patio for fresh air and socializing.

It is evident there is interest on Salt Spring Island for more LGBT gatherings throughout the year. Pride weekend felt like the entire community opened a giant bag of happy and they needed to consume it all at once.

Salt Spring Island is a place where people are comfortable with themselves and accept their neighbours for who they are, not what they are.

As much as the organizers believe their event is about raising awareness of human rights, the people of Salt Spring Island were all happy to join in community events that brought them together, leaving them with a feeling of a greater sense of personal being, pride and acceptance.


Salt Spring Island to Celebrate 7th Annual Pride

Summer is just about over, but don’t put away your boas, dancing shoes and rainbow flags just yet because the seemingly sleepy rural community of Salt Spring Island is about to host British Columbia’s third largest Pride festival.

From September 8 – 11, the Salt Spring Island community will welcome rainbows, drag queens and LGBT guests to join in the 7th Annual Pride celebrations and pride parade.

“Everyone comes out for the parade and dances,” said Amy Phillips Salt Spring Pride Chair. “Everyone involved feels a sense of ownership of the parade. We are inviting visitors into [our] close knit community that is our way of life here.”

Salt Spring Island Pride is a true grassroots Pride event. Although the LGBT community already has many equal rights and same-sex marriage across all of Canada, the event organizers continue to push the political agenda of LGBT rights with this year’s theme, Out in the World!

“We wanted to put a spotlight on the international community where it can be life threatening to be out, as well as see where we have miles to go, closer to home, in the trans community,” said Amy Phillips.

Outside of the political agenda, the Salt Spring Island LGBT community is excited about sharing their way of life with visitors coming to the island for the Pride celebrations.

“Many of us are used to hanging out in our gardens, the woods and potlucks,” Amy explains. “We get pretty excited about expressing a different part of ourselves that Pride also brings out – the larger than life, flamboyant, outrageous and sexy parts.”

It’s not only the LGBT community that is excited about the festivities, Island businesses will be cashing in this weekend too with the influx of visitors.

“Businesses are catching on about the boon that Pride has become to the island, although many of them have supported us all along,” Amy said. “We have given businesses that have donated a [rainbow] flag so they can celebrate and let people know they are supporting the festival.”

Over 700 people are expected to attend the 2011 Salt Spring Island Pride Parade on Saturday, September 10, which starts at noon in Ganges village.

There is a full weekend of events including the screening of Beyond Gay: the Politics of Pride Thursday evening, a cabaret and dance party Friday night, a traditional Pride dance Saturday night, a Unitarian church service Sunday morning and the annual Pride picnic Sunday afternoon.

Funding for the Pride festivities come from donations, local businesses and corporate sponsors including CIBC and Thrifty Foods.

Located in the Straight of Georgia, between Vancouver and Victoria, Salt Spring Island is the largest, most populated, and most frequently visited of the Gulf Islands.

The fastest and easiest way to get to the Island is by float plane from Vancouver or Victoria, and there is daily ferry service from Victoria and other Gulf Islands.

Depending on your style, accommodations on Salt Spring Island range from hotels and bed and breakfasts’, to camping under the stars.

In addition to the Pride celebrations, visitors can enjoy incredible hiking at Ruckle Park, amazing dining featuring fresh, local ingredients, kayaking and swimming in the ocean and lakes, and shopping at the many studios of island artists.

For specific times and more information about Pride and GLOSSI, (Gays and Lesbians of Salt Spring Island), visit their website.


Okanagan Pride Claims Success

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Pride in the Okanagan kicked off with a great success. Mayor Sharron Sheppard raised the signature rainbow flag at Kelowna’s City Hall and declared it Pride Week in Kelowna through the reading of the official Proclamation.

With 30’c temperatures and clear blue sunny skies all week long, members of the Okanagan community came out to enjoy movies, picnics, barbecue’s and golf events.

The beloved Joan-E, the Pacific Northwest’s most popular drag queen, graced many Okanagan Pride events over the weekend, including the Friday night barbeque and Saturday afternoon Festival in the Park. Her singing, dancing and banter was enjoyed by all ages.

“I am honored to be amongst the LGBTQ community of the Okanagan and their supporters,” said Joan-E. “I am proud of each and every one of them and proud of their accomplishments. I want them to know I think they are Brave”

Toronto’s Jeffery Straker had the crowd revved up with his powerful vocals and keyboard skills, while Kim Kumza from Vancouver entertained the audiences with her stunning musical talents.

The highlight of the week was the Okanagan Pride Dance Party hosted at the Coast Capri Hotel. DJ’s Drew G, Lisa Delux and Jeffery Michael kept the speakers pounding out the hottest beats and the dance floor grinding with hundreds of party-goers.


Joan-E to Grace Okanagan Pride This Weekend

Joan-E will be performing this weekend at Okanagan Pride

With Okanagan Pride week events fully underway, as are the preparations to host on of the most popular and well respected drag queens all of the Pacific North West, Joan-E.

Joan-E, best known for her quick wit, banter and flirtatious attitude, comes from the creative imagination of entertainer, Robert Kaiser. Robert has been performing on stage and at events since 1990.

This weekend Joan-E will bring her wonderful sarcasm, frocks, boas and high-heels to Okanagan Pride, to join in the celebrations of the landmark achievements that have been made this year.

This year for the first time in its history, the City of Kelowna has proudly raised the iconic rainbow flag at City Hall and proclaimed Pride Week in Kelowna. This is a momumental for the Okanagan’s LGBT community because the previous Mayor, Walter Grey, refused to endorse all Pride celebrations.

“I am so pleased that the City of Kelowna has taken this great action,” said Joan-E. ‘The symbol of the Pride Flag over City Hall may literally save lives. Coming out is one of the hardest things any young man or woman will ever do. It is even harder in smaller cities or towns where there are smaller LGBTQ Communities and less visible Queer images and role models.”

In larger urban centres there are more resources for the LGBT community and they tend to be tolerant and more liberal.

“People can feel alone and may also think that they are the only ones who feel the way they do,” Joan-E explained. “For a young person coming out, the Rainbow flag at City Hall is HOPE. When communities stand up to be noticed and counted it sends a strong message that we are everywhere and that we are not going away.”

With Vancouver Pride, one of the larger Pride celebrations in North America, just wrapping up two weeks earlier, Joan-E is looking forward to celebrating Pride in the Okanagan.

“It is my privilege to have been asked to come perform and be part of Okanagan Pride,” said Joan-E. “I only hope I can do my job properly and put smiles on faces. As much as I love big city Pride, it will be amazing to have everyone from the community in one facility celebrating together. Oh, and I’ve decided to fall in love this weekend!! Hey, a girl can hope right?”

This weekend the community is encouraged to come show their pride, and to celebrate the diversity and variety of life and culture in the Okanagan. This the perfect opportunity for members of the community to demonstrate their openness, tolerance and supportive attitude during all Pride Week activities.

“I am honored to be amongst the LGBTQ community of the Okanagan and their supporters,” Joan-E explained. “I am proud of each and every one of them and proud of their accomplishments. I want them to know I think they are Brave. Anyone can walk hand in hand with his or her same sex partner in the Castro in San Francisco or on Davie Street in Vancouver. Those who do so in Kelowna, Cranbrook or Vernon who fight the hard fight… They get my props!”

As a leader in the LGBT community, Joan-E is sure to leave a positive impression at this year’s Okanagan Pride celebrations.

“I look forward to seeing old friends and making many more new ones!” said Joan-E “Happy pride!”

Joan-E will be performing Saturday afternoon at the family-friendly festival in Kelowna City Park and Saturday night at the Coast Capri Hotel for the Pride Dance Party.

Joan-E’s notable achievements include:

  • Host of the Vancouver Pride parade for the past 12 years.
  • Awarded Imperial Crown Princess, Entertainer of the Year, Empress XXVIII and Citizen of the Year in Vancouver’s LGBT community.
  • Drag Queen of the Year by WE magaznine
  • Hero award from Xtra West
  • Friend Indeed Award from The Community
  • 2010 Jose Honours award
  • US State Congressional award
  • Golden Jubilee Award of Merit from HRH Queen Elizabeth II
  • Inducted into the Queer Hall of Fame in 2009


4th Annual Okanagan Pride Week Events

With Pride Week officially proclaimed by Mayor Sharon Sheppard and the City of Kelowna, Gay Okanagan, the organizing committee for Okanagan Pride, is ready to welcome everyone to attend a number of events throughout the week.

Wednesday, August 10: Movie Night

Head to the Okanagan College Students Servicese Building theatre for a screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Costumes are encouraged. Doors open at 7; how at 7:30pm. $5 donation.

Thursday, August 11: Golf

Orchards Greens Golf Club will host the 3rd Annual Golf Night. 9-holes of golf, followed by dinner. Prizes. All ages welcome. Beginner to advanced. Pre-registration is required. $40 for ORC Members; $45 general; $20 dinner only.

Friday, August 12: BBQ & Volleyball

A classic Okanagan evening wouldn’t be complete without a fun game of volleyball at Hot Sands Beach in City Park. The Centre, the home of Kelowna’s LGBT resource centre, will be hosting an outdoor BBQ – burger and beer for $10.

Saturday, August 13: Pride Festival

Performer Kim Kuzma and singer Jeffery Straker will entertain the crowds from noon-4pm at Kelowna City Park at the family-friendly afternoon. Vendor displays and activities.

Saturday, August 14: Pride Dance Party

The Coast Capri welcomes Vancouver’s legendary Joan-E and DJ Jeffery Michael and DJ Drew will entertain party-goers all night long for Okanagan Pride’s largest event of the week. $20 for ORC Members; $30 general. 9:00pm – 3:00am. Stay at the Coast Capri and save – quote “Pride” at time of booking for discounted package rates.


Okanagan Pride Week Kicks Today off With Monumental Flag Raising

Pride Week kicked off today in the Okanagan and to mark the 4th annual event, the City of Kelowna raised the iconic rainbow flag on the courtesy pole outside of Kelowna City Hall.

This is monumental event in Kelowna and signals a shift of change. In 1997, past Mayor Walter Grey declined to sign a proclamation of Gay and Lesbian Pride Week and abolished any future proclamations for the city.  The BC Human Rights Tribunal also ruled against the City of Kelowna, calling the action discriminatory.

The action of the past Mayor left a large cloud over the city and it wasn’t until 2005 when Mayor Sharon Shepherd was elected that the LGBT community would begin a long slow process to rebuild a relationship with the City of Kelowna.

Today, MayorSharon Shepherd overturned her predecessors decision, and on behalf of the City of Kelowna, had the rainbow flag hoisted and proclaimed August 8-13, 2011, Pride Week in Kelowna.

“It seems to be a way of acknowledging that we do have a diverse community and that we are also very respectful of differences in this city,” said Mayor Sharon Shepherd.

Gay Okanagan has been working with the city to have the rainbow flag flown at City Hall.

“We are extremely proud and honoured to have the rainbow flag flying high at City Hall this year,” says Pride Chair, Dustyn Baulkham. “The City of Kelowna and Mayor Sharon Shepherd have been extremely supportive of the LGBTQ community since Mayor Shepherd was elected in 2005.”

For more information on Okanagan Pride Week events, visit their website. 


The Most Festive Residential Window Decoration Celebrating Outgames and Pride in Vancouver

During the 2011 North American Outgames and Vancouver Pride throughout Vancouver residents hung rainbow flags in their windows, celebrating the two special events. There was one particular window that captured the attention of many.

Located in Yaletown, this particular residential window was an elaborate rainbow flag encompassing two walls of windows. At night it glowed vibrant red, yellow, green, blue and purple colours. During the day, the sun sparkled off the giant flag.


Vancouver Pride Parade

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Under clear blue sunny skies, the 33rd annual Vancouver Pride Parade proceeded through the streets of downtown Vancouver on Sunday, July 31, 2011. Over 640,000 spectators were expected to line the parade route.

The 2011 Vancouver Pride Parade was hosted by Vancouver’s popular entertainer, drag queen Joan-E. This year there were over 150 entries including local community groups, businesses, politicians, corporate partners, and LGBT supporters.

Hero’s celebrated in the 2011 Vancouver Pride Parade include:

  • Local Hero - Joan-E
  • Role Model - Bill Siksay
  • Posthumous Pride Hero - Bob Tivey
  • International Role Model - Pat Rocco


Celebrities Night Club – Pride Ball

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On Friday, July 30, Celebrities Night Club, the largest gay night club in Western Canada, hosted the annual Pride Ball. DJ Mattilda warmed up the crowd for Grammy nominated remixer and producer, DJ Dave Aude hit the decks. Pride Ball goers loved David’s wide variety of music and his style. The club was themed after Candyland – with a giant ice cream cone in the centre of the room, and all kinds of sweet treats adorning the room. The go go dancers were also looking tasty that night!


2011 Caya Davie Street Party Wrap-Up

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Under clear skies and a much welcome warm summer evening, the 2011 Vancouver Pride weekend officially kicked off last night with the Caya Davie Street Party.

Vancouver Pride Society President, Ken Coolen admitted that the event did get off to a rough start. The event was supposed to start at 7pm, but volunteers were not trained to sell tickets to the events and set-up for the event ticket sales and vendors inside the events weren’t fully set-up until around 8pm.

The event was well attended with thousands of people enjoying the live music, DJ’s and performers on the the multiple stages. Notable group, Sugarbeach performed their 2011 North America Outgames theme song, “Come on Out”.


Vancouver Pride Terry Wallace Memorial Breakfast

This Saturday, July 30, the Vancouver Pride Society will be hosting the annual Terry Wallace Breakfast. Terry Wallace was one of the founders of Vancouver Pride and the intimate pancake breakfast is an annual tradition to raise funds in his honour.

The community breakfast is prepared by local church groups and volunteers. Breakfast is by donation and includes pancakes, sausages, fruit and coffee.

Breakfast will be served from 9:00am – 12:30pm.


Vancouver Pride Run

While the athletes are competing in various competitions and events for the 2011 North America Outgames, FrontRunners, a local LGBT friendly running group, has organized a 10km Pride Run at 9:00am Saturday, July 31.

The Pride Run is a 10km run and 4km walk starting at Lumberman’s Arch in Stanley Park. The event will start off with a warm-up and the singing of the anthem. There are water stations located along the race route.

All participants are eligible for door prizes and those registered with the Outgames also receive age category medals for the top three placings.

Participants should arrive before 8:30am for check-in. Restrooms, gear check and food vendors are all located at the start/finish line.

Register online.


2011 Vancouver Pride Festival

Following the Vancouver Pride Parade on Sunday, July 31, is the annual Pride Festival, located at Sunset Beach in Vancouver’s Westend. Over 125,000 people attend the post-parade festival.

There’s a large family-friendly marketplace with over 140 vendors including artisans, community organizations, corporate partners, etc. There’s lots for sale and free samples! There is live music by local DJ’s, performers and headline acts on the festival stage, and the beachfront beer garden is a popular stop to get ice-cold beverages.

The festival runs from 11:00am – 6:00pm.


2011 North America Outgames: Opening Ceremonies

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The 2011 North America Outgames were officially declared open on Monday, July 25 in front of a large crowd that had gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

There were live performances by Destineak, Sugarbeach, and Tyrell Witherspoon.

The ceremonies were the final destination for the Running of the Flags relay. The flags started off at Vancouver’s City Hall earlier in the day. The flags came from three different routes: UBC, SFU and Whistler / Grouse. The flag bearers from throughout the day paraded the flags onto the stage for the singing of O’Canada.

The event concluded with the lighting of the Outgames cauldron. It was lit by the youngest Outgames participant, a 15 year old softball player, and the oldest participant, an 86 year old runner.


Vancouver 2011 Outgames: Running of the Flags – Planes, Trains and Automobiles!

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On Monday, July 25, the Vancouver 2011 Outgames kicked off with the Running of the Flags, marking the official start of the week-long celebration of sport, human rights and culture.

The flags all started at Vancouver’s City Hall where Vancouver Mayor, Gregor Robertson officially proclaimed Pride Week. Over 70 runners carried flags on three distinct routes in and around Vancouver.

The first group to leave was the Whistler – Grouse – Vancouver Group. Our group began on the steps of Vancouver’s City Hall where Vancouver 2011 Outgames chair, John Boychuck officially announced the start of the flag relay.

Dashing down the steps, each of us jumped into our own awaiting Corvette. We were driving through Vancouver to Helijet’s downtown heliport.

From there we boarded the helicopter and flew to the top of Whistler Mountain. It was a spectacular flight through the mountains, passing by many prominent landmarks.

We landed and the top of Whistler Mountain and carried our flags to the gondola past a crowd of on-lookers. We took the gondola down to Whistler Village where we handed off the flags to the second set of flag bearers, who continued on the flag relay route. The flags would make their way around Whistler and Blackcomb and then were taken back to Grouse / Vancouver where the relay continued on to the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery for the lighting of the cauldron.

I was honoured to be a flag bearer for the Vancouver 2011 North American Outgames. What made it special was being at City Hall for the kick-off, taking the flags for the longest distance single leg of the entire relay, meeting many new friends, and carrying the flags by plane (Helijet), train (Whistler gondola – which falls under the Railway Act in British Columbia), and automobile (Corvette).

The 2011 Outgames events and activities continue on throughout the week and finish with the Closing Ceremonies at the Plaza of Nations on Saturday, July 31.


2011 Davie Street Dance Party

It’ll be a hot summer evening on Friday, July 29 as the weekend Pride festivities kicks off in Vanouver’s Westend. Head to Vancouver’s Davie Street Village for the Davie Street Dance Party, an evening long block party. The street festival includes dancers, vendors, volunteers, beer gardens, DJs, and live entertainment on multiple stages.

The Street Party offered two entrance options; a $20 Express Pass or a $10 General Entry. The express pass allowed for faster entry and re-entry into the fenced in party. The Street Party area had four entrances and the line-ups to get in moved very quickly.

Once inside the ticketed gated event area from Burrard to Jervis, event-goers can purchase alcoholic beverages from a number of vendors.

For more information, visit the official Davie Street Dance Party website.


City of Vancouver Proclaims Pride Week in Vancouver

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From the steps of City Hall in Vancouver, Mayor Gregor Robertson, proclaimed July 25 – 31, 2011 as Pride Week in Vancouver.

The event was held on the opening day of the 2011 North American Outgames. Notable attendees included John Boychuck, chair of the Vancouver Outgames, Ken Coolen, chair of the Vancouver Pride Society, Vancouver City Councillors, and local celebrity drag queen, Joan-E.

Following the reading of the Proclamation, the Running of the Flags relay for the Vancouver Outgames began, starting with the first group which headed to Whistler, followed by the SFU and UBC flag route groups.


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